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Wild flower meadows

Wild flower meadow created at Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath

Going native​

Sowing of native plant seed mixes has given a real boost to wildflowers and insects across Hampstead Heath.

Wild flowers can be found throughout Hampstead Heath's grasslands, but because much of this habitat was agriculturally 'improved' in past times, not all of it is particular flower-rich. To help out, the City of London has created pockets of species-rich wild flower meadow across the Heath.

In preparation, the top layer of soil is inverted, or even removed, to reduce nutrients. If the nutrient levels are too high, coarse grasses, docks and other species will out-compete the wild flowers. 

Then seed mixes are sown. Two main sorts of meadow have been created.

Sowing the seeds of diversity

Annual seed mixes include species such as cornflower, corn marigold, corn chamomile and corncockle. These species were once common as arable weeds before the widespread use of herbicides and fertilizers in the countryside.

Perennial seed mixes include species such as oxeye daisy, bird's foot trefoil, black knapweed, salad burnet and lady's bedstraw. These are the sort of species that were once common in hay meadows, 95% of which have been lost in the UK since the Second World War.

As well as adding spectacularly to the Heath's landscape, these new habitats are valuable to many insects and spiders and the birds and small mammals that feed on them.

Published:
03 July 2014
Last Modified:
04 October 2018

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